Hiestands in America
We know that Henrich Hiestand was not the first Hiestand to
come to America. Küngold ("Kinget")
Hiestand (born January, 1658 in Richterswil, Switzerland)
married Michael Reiff, also of Richterswil. Because of
persecution, this young Mennonite couple moved to
the Palatinate in Germany, probably Ibersheim first
and then Mettenheim, where Michael died. One
child, Anna (Anneli), was born to Kinget (Küngold)
and Michael Reiff before Michael died.
Note: Ibersheim, Mettenheim, and Alsheim are
all within a very few miles (or km) of each other,
north of Worms, Germany on the west side of the
After Michael Reiff's
death, Kinget Hiestand Reiff married Johannes "Hans" Stauffer,
a 40 year-old bachelor*,
in 1685 in Alsheim. Hans Stauffer had other
known interactions with Hiestands in the Palatinate,
probably many of them. For example, on
December 29, 1704 two of "Henry Hiestand's" servants
"got 8 ells of ticking" from him and in 1705,
Stauffer purchased "2 malters of rye" from "Henry
Hiestand." Henry (Henrich) was a common name
in the Hiestand family in the Palatinate, so we do
not know which Henry this was. But our
immigrant ancestor with the same name was born in
1704, so it could not have been our Henrich
Hiestand. *Hans Stauffer
was 27 years old and a bachelor on January 7, 1672.
Source: Page 403 of Documents of Brotherly Love,
Volume I by James W. Lowry (Ohio Amish Library,
In 1702, Anna Reiff
(daughter of Kinget Hiestand Reiff Stauffer and
step-daughter of Johannes Stauffer) married Gerhart
Clemens from Nieder-Florsheim (20 km south of
Alsheim), son of Jacob Clemens. The "Clements"
(English spelling of the Dutch "Clemens") family was
originally from England but, because of their
Puritan faith had fled to the Netherlands where they
became Mennonites. Why or how Gerhart ended up
in the Palatinate, from the Netherlands, is unknown,
but Hans Stauffer's diary seems to indicate that
Anna and Gerhart were married in the Alsheim area.
Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) is said to come from
the same English family that Gerhard Clemens came
On January 10, 1709,
the Rhine closed due to ice and remained closed for
five weeks. The 1708-1709 winter was the
coldest winter in Europe in the past 500 years.
And the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1714) was
wreaking havoc on the Palatinate--life there was
again becoming intolerable.
In about March of
1709, Gerhart Clemens sold his possessions to his
father and brother, preparing to travel to America.
Gerhart's notebook indicates that by October 1709 he
was in Pennsylvania: "Anno 1709, October 10, I
bought a horse from Heinrich Cassel [known to have
been in Germantown, Pennsylvania]." Gerhart
and Anna Reiff Clemens initially settled on the
Skippack Creek in what is now Montgomery County, PA,
where Mennonites had begun settling in 1702.
pioneers of the Clemens family in America.
In the Lists of
Germans from the Palatinate Who Came to England in
1709, compiled at that time by John Tribbeko
(Chaplain to his late Royal Highness Prince George
of Denmark) and George Andrew Ruperti (Minister of
the German Lutheran Church of the Savoye), there
6,520 "poor Germans," including men, women, and
children, on these lists. Only 13 families were
"Baptists" (Anabaptists) and three families were
referred to as Mennonites; others were Catholics,
Lutherans, or Reformed. Gerhard Clemens, his
wife, and two sons (ages 5 and 1 1/2) were in the
first group, taken in on May 6, 1709. Gerhard
was listed with the husbandmen and vinedressers, but
it was also noted that he was a linen cloth weaver.
Gerhart and Anna's
emigration to America, apparently prompted the
Stauffers to also emigrate. Kinget
and Hans Stauffer arrived with their family in Philadelphia on
September 23, 1710 on the ship Maria Hope and settled near
Valley Forge, PA, 20 miles or so southwest of the
Skippack community. Their names were not on
any of the 1709 lists compiled by Tribbeko and
But there was another
Hiestand known to have been in America prior to when
our Henrich Hiestand arrived, if our Henrich arrived
later than April 1726. On April 15, 1726
Abraham Hiestand (first known male
Hiestand in America) sold a cow to
Gerhart (Gerhard) Clemens in Lower Salford
Township [Skippack Mennonite settlement area] of
what is now Montgomery County, PA (previously part
of Philadelphia County). From the account book of
Gerhart Clemens: "I bought a cow of
April 15, 1726, for L3 ts." How was this Abraham
Hiestand related to Kinget Hiestand Reiff Stauffer,
mother-in-law of Gerhart Clemens?
We do not know, but it is likely that he was a close
relative of Kinget.
And we do not know the relationship of Kinget Hiestand
and our Henrich Hiestand, but they certainly would have been related
to some degree and acquainted with each other, even though Henrich would have been
more than 40 years younger than Kinget Hiestand Stauffer.
The distance from Philadelphia to the site of the Skippack
Mennonite settlement and to the Valley Forge area is only about
30 miles. Assuming Henrich knew that he had
relatives so close to his port of disembarkation
(Philadelphia), it seems feasible, maybe even
probable, that he would have found a "soft landing"
in America with Skippack relatives or other friends
from the Palatinate before moving on in search of
his own land. But, we know of no record that
indicates he ever lived with or visited any of these
Major sources of information in
- Bower, Rev. Henry S. A
Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Daniel
Stauffer and Hans Bauer and Other Pioneers,
Together with Historical and Biographical
Sketches, and a Short History of the Mennonites.
Harleysville, PA: News Printing House, 1897.
- Clemens, Jacob Cassel. Genealogical History of the Clemens Family and
Descendants of the Pioneer, Gerhart Clemens.
Franconia, PA: Franconia Mennonite Historical
- Ruth, John L. Maintaining
the Right Fellowship. Franconia, PA:
Franconia Mennonite Conference, 1984. (Reprinted
in 2014 by Wipf and Stock Publishers)
- Stauffer, W.T. (translator of
Hans Stauffer Notebooks). "Hans Stauffer
Note-books," pages 95-117 of The Perkiomen
Region, Volume X, Number 3, July 1932, whole